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What vinyl records are worth money?

Over the years, vinyl records have gone up and down in popularity. Although vinyl went out of the picture for a bit in the late 20th century, the industry has been steadily growing since 2006, marking year-over-year sales increases each year since.

While new vinyl records are accounting for those numbers, there are still many old records that record collectors try to purchase. Sometimes it's because you can find them cheaper on a bargain shelf, but other times they are worth a significant amount of money, especially when you start to factor in serial numbers and mint copies in place of reissues and mass productions.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but we often get asked which vinyl records are worth money. So, we’ve put together a shortlist of some of our favorite valuable records that are worth a lot of money these days. 

We recently wrote a piece on some of the rarest vinyl records, so here we’re going to focus on records that may not necessarily be a rare record, but are still worth a decent chunk of change.

 

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (1959)

The first record on our list is an absolute classic in the jazz world. Releasing in 1959, Miles Davis took the world by storm with his soulful, heartfelt jazz record Kind of Blue.

Davis revolutionized jazz more than once throughout his career, and this was no exception. Featuring guest instrumentation by the likes of John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Paul Chambers just to name a few, this record instantly cemented itself as a staple of the genre. 

Not to mention, it’s now the best-selling jazz record of all time. If you can manage to find an original pressing of this LP in decent condition, it will run you at least $1,000.

 

Nirvana, Bleach (1989)

Speaking of artists that revolutionized their genres, Nirvana is the poster band of grunge and alternative music. Although Nevermind is their most popular record, their debut effort is the one worth money these days. 

Two different pressings of the record hold value. There were only 1,000 copies made during the first pressing of the album, and these original copies go for as much as $2,500. You can know this by the white color of the vinyl disc.  

You can also expect to pay a little over $1,000 for a copy of the record’s third pressing. That time, there were only 500 made, and you can identify it by a red and white 12-inch LP and a blue 7-inch.

 

Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin (1969)

This may not be the most expensive record on this list, but it has to be one of the greatest albums. This debut record from one of rock’s most legendary bands is a valuable addition to your collection no matter what version you find. 

However, if you manage to find a first U.K. pressing, you’ll easily be paying over $1,000 to get your hands on it. The easiest way to spot this is the color of the “Atlantic Records” logo on the bottom right corner of the cover. 

In this first edition, the logo was a turquoise blue. In later versions, they changed the color to orange. If you happen to have an old copy of this album in your collection, check to see which pressing it is. It could be worth a lot more than you think. 

 

The Who, The Who Sell Out (1967)

As one of The Who’s earlier records, this album doesn’t get as much attention as later albums like “Tommy” or “Who Are You.” However, this would lay the groundwork for the concept albums that Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey would eventually think up down the road. 

The album paints itself as a radio broadcast, including fake commercials for products and public service announcements mixed in between the songs. Not to mention, the album cover is certainly one of a kind.  

If you happen to find one of the first 1,000 U.K. pressings, you may be in luck as this first set of LPs came packaged with a psychedelic poster insert. If you find the original album with the poster, you can expect to pay as much as $1,000 for the pair. 

 

Bruce Springsteen Spirit in the Night (1973)

“The Boss” himself had to make an appearance on this list. Like with dozens of records, it’s often the firsts that fetch the biggest price tag. 

If you’re looking for a copy of this record, you may have a hard time finding one. However, if you manage to come across the original commercial release of Springsteen’s first single, it could cost you more than $5,000. 

When this song first released, it didn’t make Springsteen an overnight success. The single would show up again on first full-length LP, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., but that didn’t do it either. 

It wasn’t until the release of his third album, Born to Run, that Springsteen would cement himself into the American consciousness. However, Spirit in the Night has become a favorite of his fans over time. 

 

The White Stripes, Lafayette Blues (1998)

This is one of the most recent albums on this list. Before Jack White started his solo career, he was a part of the legendary rock duo The White Stripes with Meg White, who he claimed was his sister at the start of the band’s rise to prominence.

Turns out, Meg was his wife for a time, but the couple got divorced in 2000 before The White Stripes rose to the level of stardom they eventually would. 

Back in 1998, though, the band was starting to pick up some traction in the alt-rock scene. A record release party was thrown for them in Detroit, where they made 15 copies of this single, each with a hand-painted cover created by the head of Italy Records Dave Buick. 

The record features two tracks, “Lafayette Blues” on one side and “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” on the other. If you happened to be at that release show and grabbed a copy, you should be thanking your past self. 

A copy of this record in good condition sells for more than $12,000. Since there were only 15 made, if you happen to have a copy, it’s worth holding onto for your collection, as it’s highly unlikely you’d be able to snag another. 

 

The Beatles, Yesterday and Today (1966)

We could choose pretty much any of The Beatles’ records to put on this list. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr won the hearts of dedicated fans all over the world during their time and even now, so it's not surprising that almost every album they made is worth money in one of its forms. However, this one is perhaps the most interesting of the bunch. 

The original album art for Yesterday and Today featured the foursome in butcher’s clothes holding decapitated dolls and chunks of raw meat strewn across their laps and the wall behind them. 

Looking at it even today is a little jarring, but it was especially so in the 60s. The label recalled this first pressing of the record, although 750,000 copies were produced before the recall. 

Many copies with the original cover have survived until today, and they’re incredibly valuable. The infamous “butcher cover” pressings go for more than $15,000, mint condition or not. 

 

The Rolling Stones, Street Fighting Man (1968)

Jagger and company have had plenty of hit records in their time, but this one’s value is yet again enhanced by a specific album cover. The original artwork for this single featured a photo of police officers huddled around an injured protestor. 

Released just after riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the label was concerned that the art may not be received as well as they had hoped. For safety, they ordered that all copies of the album featuring the original artwork be destroyed. 

A dozen or two of these collectible records remain, though, and they go for around $17,000 if you can be lucky enough to find one and be able to afford it. 

 

The Beatles, "White Album" (1968)

Last but certainly not least, we have to talk about The Beatles’ White Album. This is arguably the most valuable vinyl record ever recorded. 

Although an average copy of it isn’t worth much more than any other Beatles album, the first set of pressings are all numbered. This means that you can know exactly which press your album is if it was part of that first set. 

Drummer Ringo Starr held onto the very first copy of the album to be produced for dozens of years, but he sold it just a few years back in 2015. People expected the copy to sell well, in the range of $200,000 or so, but it far surpassed that. 

The record wound up bringing in nearly $800,000 at auction, making it the most expensive vinyl record ever sold. 

 

Honorable Mentions

We could spend all day talking about valuable records, but we'd rather be listening to them instead, so here's a short list of some honorable mentions you can check out on your own: 

  • Elvis Presley's debut album: ~$1,000
  • The Velvet Underground & Nico: ~$3,000
  • Diamond Dogs, David Bowie: ~$3,500
  • Please Please Me, The Beatles, ~$3,500
  • God Save the Queen, The Sex Pistols: ~$20,000
  • Motown 45 - Do I Love You (Yes I Do), Frank Wilson: ~$25,000
  • The Black Album, Prince: ~$27,500
  • The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, ~$35,000 (stereo copy), ~$15,000 (mint copy)

 

Buy limited-edition vinyl records at Sound of Vinyl

If you’re looking to grow your vinyl collection, check out our collection of rare and limited edition records. We may not have Ringo Starr’s copy of the White Album, but we have plenty of records and colored vinyl pressings that you won’t find anywhere else. We also have both mono and stereo versions of a wide variety of artists that you may have a hard time finding at your local record store, as well as exclusives from record companies and new releases from modern artists.

You can also set up curated text offers, and we’ll send you an album recommendation every day based on the music you like. We know there’s something special about hearing an album on vinyl, and we want to be able to share our love of music with you. 

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.statista.com/chart/7699/lp-sales-in-the-united-states/
  2. https://www.longlivevinyl.net/most-valuable-vinyl-world-part-3/
  3. https://www.nme.com/news/music/various-artists-2466-1257745#:~:text=Click%20above%20to%20listen%20to%20the%20song.&text=Only%20two%20or%20three%20copies,record%20ever%20sold%20at%20auction 
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